Tropical Weekend in Berkshire

This weekend the views out of my windows have mostly been of grey skies and the swishing sound in the traffic tone tells me the roads are wet with rain so I’ve been busy at home, trying to make sunshine indoors.

This has involved burning loads of lemon and maychang oils in the newly hoovered and tidied living area, listening to loads of summery music, dyeing yarn and boring underwear fantastic shades of jubilant Orange after I found some tins of Dylon dye discounted to 99p each in a hardware shop, casting on an exciting new knitting project and feasting on tropical fare.

I may have mentioned before that my neighbourhood is a haven for Indian, West-Indian, Polish and Middle-Eastern fare? Where I live at the moment reminds me strongly of the early part of my childhood which was spent in Thornton Heath. I absolutely love the local shops and don’t buy much food anywhere else since I moved here. This weekend, in order to combat the rain-induced malaise and to fortify myself for the week ahead, I made Saltfish and Ackee, Jamaica’s National Dish, using ingredients purchased on my street. I can’t recommend Ainsley Harriott’s recipe highly enough; the cornmeal muffins are amazing with the Saltfish and Ackee. Ackee is related to the lychee and the soft, yellow fruits that you buy in tins in this country come from the inner sanctums of a giant big fruiting pod that grows on the tree. Much of this pod is inedible, but the fleshy yellow arils that are exposed when the pod splits open are delicious once properly prepared. They have a sort of scrambled-egg like texture and taste really rich and creamy. Contrasted with the peppers, chillies, tomatoes, garlic and onion that go into the mix, the ackees makes the dish sweet and nurturing. The salted fish, once soaked, skinned, boiled, de-boned and flaked, keeps its shape much better than my rubbish photo portrays and the whole ensemble is delicious and nurturing. After having chilli burns all over my fingers for days after my Scotch Bonnet Pepper debacle last time I made Curry Goat I decided to keep it light with the chilli this time, opting for just half of a comparitively mild birds eye chilli in place of the hard stuff.

I have also been making my Ultimate Sunshine Indoors Spotify Playlist which I think you can hear here if you use spotify: Spotify Playlist Link I am loving Spotify and all the music I can hear through it. How have I only just discovered The Herbaliser and The Quantic Soul Orchestra? How have I only just discovered the Quincy Jones back catalogue? And also – just as relevantly – why isn’t The Original Nuttah on Spotify?

In knitting news, I have become obsessed with the idea of marmalade-themed knitting projects and colourwork. After I saw this combination of green, beige, cream and deep orange in an unruly and gorgeous garden near here I have been able to think of nothing but some intricate colourwork that incorporates all these colours. But for now, it’s on the back-boiler and I’m just warming up with some other colourwork.

I tell you, it’s an obsession. This photo… these colours… what to knit from them?

Not feeling brave enough to attempt stranded colourwork, I am trying out some slip-stitch ideas on a stash-busting and uncharacteristically ornate knitting project that uses up some miscellaneous baby wool in white, some yellow sari silk, a small amount of pale blue angora and some gold lurex which I’ve discovered is the slippiest thing in the world. The idea is to make a scarf with sections of heavy, drapey silk, punctuated by detailed sections of pretty colourwork and golden details. Like this.

Re: aforementioned marmalade obsession, this is some yarn I’m dyeing. It’s in a second bath at the moment but before it went in for some semi-solid Seville treatment, this is how it was looking:

After the amazing Saltfish and Ackee feast, I had fried plantains. To make this I just slice a ripe but still firm plantain into large pieces then fry these in a very small amount of olive oil over medium/low heat. Then, on a plate, I sprinkle a couple of pinches of salt and about 1 tbsp of sugar and mix it up. Then I roll the plantains in the salty-sweet mix when they come out of the frying pan and I eat them.

In other colourful, joyous news, now that my friend Ruth has a blog and has already had her birthday, I can both point you in her direction and blog the yarn that I dyed for her. Ruth has a thing about pink and it was a pleasure to put together these complimentary-colour cats-eye buttons and mixed pinks yarn colourway for her. I called the colourway Tearose as I – naturally – used some tea in the dye to allay super fluorescence in the colourway.

I think it’s become my signature idea with dyeing: Use Tea. I can’t explain the attraction beyond the obvious which is that I love teapots and all things tea. The other day I rather fortuitously found this on the street. It has been washed in vinegar and is awaiting its transformation into jewellry.

I hope you all have found some summery loveliness this weekend either outside or inside.

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